During the course of my recovery I had been communicating with other people through the magic of the Internet about my injury. A handful of other folks with calcaneus fractures had mentioned the product called iWALKFree. It’s an interesting mobility device. An aluminum bar straps to the upper leg as the knee rests on a foam padded shelf. The bar protrudes down, where a rubber foot makes contact with the ground. It is adjustable to any height and allows the user with a lower leg injury to walk hands-free!
The price tag was a bit stiff, and my insurance company, of course, would not help cover it. So I mulled it over for a while before finally committing. I had to wait a week after I ordered it for the device to arrive in the mail. No local companies had this item, only knee scooters, walkers and other gimpy medical devices. There is apparently not a large enough market for active mobility devices. Americans are just too damn fat and lazy.
When the iWALKFree arrived I immediately sized it up and took it for a test walk around my apartment. I felt really unstable and wobbly at first, but quickly got the hang of it. I certainly couldn’t walk with a normal gait, but it was effective with a modified gait. I used my hiking poles for my first walk around the neighborhood to build up my confidence. It was really slow going. I was clearly much faster on my crutches, but those killed my shoulders, ribs and upper back. Plus, my hands were useless for anything when I used crutches. The iWALKFree had advantages in most situations.
It needs to be physically attached, and it’s not comfortable to sit with it on, so it is impractical in situations where I was constantly changing positions. However, for walking long distances, going to the store or library, cooking, or cleaning the house, the iWALKFree was invaluable. I took the device on a short camping trip with some friends to see how it would perform on the trails. It was then open season for road-tripping… 🙂